APC Leaders Root for Buhari, Atiku Moves to Spring Surprise
Thisday– Despite the fact that the outcome of the national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) slated to hold December 10 rests solely with the 22 swing states not controlled by the APC, the leadership of the opposition party is still rooting for a former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as its presidential candidate as its joker for the 2015 elections.
Unfortunately for those pushing for the Buhari candidacy, it only appears a sure bet in the event of a consensus arrangement as former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is likely to spring a huge surprise if a primary election is held, THISDAY has further learnt.
Also, after a lot of debate on the choice of venue for the convention, the convention committee is yet uncertain of where the convention will hold. Initial position had favoured Benin City, the Edo State capital, but subsequent arguments on the ground of not being central enough has caused the committee to have another rethink. As at last night, the committee has not settled for any venue.
Interestingly, the presidential primary of the APC is increasingly looking like a battle between Buhari and Atiku even though there are two other interested aspirants: the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and the publisher, Leadership Newspapers, Sam Ndah-Isaiah.
Whilst it is believed that the 14 states controlled by APC governors may have clearly aligned depending on the disposition of the governors in those states, the 22 other non-APC states are simply up for grabs, depending on how swiftly each of the aspirants is able to move and secure the support of the state delegates.
The states in question include Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ondo, Ekiti, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Adamawa, Katsina, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau and Benue.
The reason for this is not far-fetched. The 22 states which obviously will determine the outcome of the national convention of the APC have no clear leadership and structures for easy coordination, meaning that they could swing either way depending on who poaches the hardest. But particularly instructive is the fact that they would ultimately determine the presidential standard-bearer of the APC.
Although for the purposes of the election, the leadership of the APC is said to have assigned and shared the 22 states amongst its 14 governors for easy “zonal coordination and mobilisation”, it is also expected that how well the governors handle the delegates in these states will determine where they swing at the convention.
The snag however in this method is that the “supervising governors” in the various zones may have their influence whittled down because they will not have the capacity to enforce any order, or punish any member (in any state they are supervising) that chooses to differ from group position.
But regardless of this reality, the APC leadership, which had previously failed to push through a consensus arrangement, is said to be rooting for Buhari as its candidate, consensus being the only way a majority of those who make up the leadership believe guarantees his candidacy.
Unfortunately, Atiku and those loyal to him have stridently opposed the idea, insisting on a primary as part of the thrust of the APC at formation. It is believed that Atiku is banking on his power of mobilisation and delegates’ poaching by insisting on primary.
Buhari is hitherto believed to have been laid back and said to have initially carried on as if the APC ticket was just his for the asking, until the past week when he literally swung into action, meeting and canvassing for delegates’ votes across the country.
This, many believed, may enhance his visibility and chances at the convention, coupled with the support of the party leadership he seems to have already secured.
On his part, Atiku is said to stand out as one aspirant who knows the nuances and cadences of the game and much of this experience is manifest in how he has deployed his political arsenal: giving his time and resources to the venture of convincing delegates on why he is the best man for the job. Atiku is said to have spent the last one month meeting with delegates across the federation and had reportedly visited no less than 27 states in all.
There is therefore the belief that Atiku comes to the race prepared and with a lot of experience; unfortunately, he does not seem to have the support of the APC leadership and a majority of the governors.
However, expected at the national convention are about 10,000 delegates from across the country to converge on the venue initially mooted between Lagos and Edo States, a source has said.
While the Edo venue was initially knocked off on the grounds of capacity to suck in such a crowd, the committee members were also said to have turned down the option of Lagos for reasons of feared interference and distance as a majority of members are said to have frowned on the distance, especially for those coming from the far north.
It was against this backdrop that the committee allegedly resolved to hold the convention in Abuja as the alternative. But for reasons of political symbolism, the committee members, THISDAY learnt, reverted to Edo, being the home zone of the president and discarding outright, the factor of capacity to accommodate the crowd.
Given that over 10,000 delegates are billed to converge on the national convention, the modalities for choosing delegates from each state, THISDAY gathered, are dependent on the number of wards and local governments that each state has.
The source noted that since the states are bigger than one another in terms of population as well as local government areas, there was no way the number of delegates could be made equal but clearly on the number of wards and councils that each has in effect.
Perhaps, the reality of the extent to which the situation is still fluid is what many believe is responsible for why the aspirants are making some last minute push for delegates’ votes, realising that the game, as it were, is still anyone’s until a winner emerges.
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